Mario Balotelli said he was glad to be back in the Premier League after the controversial Italy striker completed his £16 million ($26.5 million, 20.1 million euros) move to Liverpool on Monday.
Balotelli left England in January 2013 when Manchester City sold him to AC Milan, but the 24-year-old endured a difficult time in Milan, where he was subjected to racial abuse by opposing fans.
After completing his switch to Anfield on a three-year contract worth a reported £90,000 a week, which includes an option for a further year, Balotelli conceded he had been wrong to ever leave England.
“I’m happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake. I wanted to go to Italy, but I realised it was a mistake,” Balotelli told Liverpool’s website. “English football is generally better. English football is beautiful.”
Liverpool did not complete the transfer in time for Balotelli to play in their 3-1 loss at City on Monday, but he attended the match and sat in the directors’ box wearing a dark top and a beanie hat.
He had earlier completed a one-on-one training session with Liverpool’s head of conditioning and fitness, Ryland Morgans, at the club’s Melwood base. Balotelli earned a reputation as a troublemaker during his three-year stint at City, where his antics included setting fireworks off in his own house and brawling with then-coach Roberto Mancini.
Speaking before his side’s defeat at the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that Balotelli’s signing represented something of a gamble.